Recap on Matchweek 28
Manchester United beat Chelsea 2-1 last weekend to cut Manchester City’s lead at the top of the Premier League to 13 points and keep themselves in pole position to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard scored United’s goals as they inflicted another setback on the reigning champions, who face an increasingly difficult task to finish in the top four after slipping to fifth place. Liverpool strengthened their grip on third place as their brilliant attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all scored in their 4-1 demolition of West Ham to maintain their unbeaten record at Anfield, while Harry Kane headed a late winner for Tottenham at Crystal Palace to move them above Chelsea. With Arsenal’s home game against Manchester City postponed to Thursday because of the Carabao Cup final, they now find themselves 10 points adrift of the top four and almost certain to miss out on the Champions League again unless they can go all the way in this season’s Europa League.
At the bottom of the table, West Brom now look doomed to relegation after their home defeat to Huddersfield, who have recorded back-to- back Premier League wins for the first time since August. A goal from Xherdan Shaqiri helped Stoke to earn a useful point at Leicester, but they remain in the bottom three alongside Swansea, who were well beaten at Brighton. Injury-hit Palace and Southampton, who drew 1-1 at Burnley, are outside the relegation places on goal difference, with Newcastle two points clear after they threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Bournemouth.
Premier League – Matchweek 29
Manchester City have won their last 13 home league games and they will be looking to make it 14 in- a-row when Chelsea visit the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the pick of this weekend’s matches. Rafa Benitez returns to Anfield with his Newcastle side on Saturday evening, while Brighton will feel they have a chance of taking something against an ailing Arsenal on Sunday lunchtime. The 3pm Saturday games include a crucial relegation clash at St Mary’s, where Southampton host Stoke, while Swansea could drag West Ham into trouble if they can beat them at the Liberty Stadium. This round of matches concludes on Monday night, when Crystal Palace take on Manchester United at Selhurst Park.
Swansea v West Ham
Swansea may still be in the bottom three, but aside from their 4-1 defeat at Brighton last weekend there has been a marked improvement in their performances since Carlos Carvalhal took over from Paul Clement, giving them real hope of escaping relegation. The Swans have won each of their last six home games in all competitions, including three successive league wins against Liverpool, Arsenal and Burnley, and they will be optimistic of extending that sequence when West Ham visit South Wales. The Hammers have been hit and miss under David Moyes, scoring notable victories at home to Chelsea and away at Stoke and Huddersfield while also producing several below-par performances. They were well beaten by Liverpool last weekend to follow on from a 3-1 loss at Brighton and an FA Cup defeat at Wigan.
Recommended bet: Swansea to win
Tottenham v Huddersfield
Huddersfield’s chances of surviving their first season in the Premier League have been significantly enhanced by their victories over Bournemouth and West Brom, but they will be up against it when they face an in-form Tottenham side at Wembley on Saturday afternoon. Spurs extended their unbeaten run to 16 games in all competitions with their 6-1 FA Cup replay win over Rochdale on Wednesday night and their brief dip in form towards the end of the Champions League group stage is now a distant memory. They will have one eye on next Wednesday’s Champions League Last 16 second leg against Juventus, but that might just encourage them to come out of the traps quickly against the Terriers and get the game wrapped up early.
Recommended bet: Tottenham Over 1.5 first half goals
Manchester City v Chelsea
Only Everton and Wolves have survived 90 minutes at the Etihad Stadium without losing – Wolves went on to lose on penalties in the Carabao Cup – and City have won their last 12 home games in all competitions. However, nine of the last 12 visitors have scored in defeat, with West Brom, Bournemouth and Feyenoord the three exceptions. Despite dominating the vast majority of their matches, City do employ a risky defensive strategy and will always give the opposition at least a couple of chances and Chelsea have players who are more than capable of taking theirs. The Blues were the last visitors to beat City at home. It’s tempting to go with City to win and both teams to score at 3.3 with Betfair, but Betfred’s price for Willian to score in 90 minutes also stands out. The Brazilian has been Chelsea’s best player in recent weeks and has scored four goals in his last three matches, including strikes against Barcelona and at Old Trafford last week.
Recommended bet: Willian to score
Crystal Palace v Manchester United
Palace are in the grip of an injury crisis and with Wilfried Zaha absent and Christian Benteke woefully short of form they look incapable of causing too many problems for the Premier League’s best defensive team. The Eagles may have lost in the last minute against Spurs last week, but there was only ever going to be one winner and we should see a similar pattern on Monday night. Since the turn of the year, United have played 11 matches in all competitions and have won seven of them without conceding. They have won to nil at Everton, Burnley and Huddersfield and this fixture looks likely to go the same way.
Recommended bet: Manchester United to win to nil
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